Central Arkansas loves its burger joints. Whether the patty is smashed, hand-formed or rounded; char-grilled or griddle-fried; whether the buns are seeded or split-topped or buttered and toasted, there's a burger for every preference.
Arkansas Burger Co. The Rock ($6.50 with a bag of chips) is the burger to order here. It's two hand-formed patties with a nice light burger crust, flavored with a little salt, pepper and burger seasoning, split by a slice of cheese. The sesame-seed bun is buttered and toasted. You'll need two hands and a big mouth and appetite. 7410 Cantrell Road. 663-0600. CC. Beer and wine. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tue.-Sat.
Buffalo Grill Try the cheeseburger ($6.29 with potato chips). The lightly charred, hand-formed patty is seasoned with salt and pepper and served on a toasted sesame-seed bun. You'll never be able to eat all the chips. 1611 Rebsamen Park Road. 296-9535. 400 N. Bowman Road. 224-0012. CC. Full bar. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.-Thu., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
Capital Bar and Grill This could easily be the best burger in the state. Fresh chopped Creekstone beef, a house-made bun and pickles highlight the expert care put into assembling Capital burger ($9 with Parmesan fries). It's usually cooked just right, too. Add pimento cheese for a real treat. 111 W. Markham. 374-7474. CC. Full bar. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily.
Cotham's in the City While the Hubcap Burger has achieved a certain level of fame, the regular cheeseburger ($7.29 with fries) is probably a more reasonable choice. Half the size of the hubcab, the griddle-charred beauty comes with melted-on cheese, purple onion, iceberg shreds, tomato and pickles under a seedless bun. The excellent house seasoning is available for sale. 1401 W. Third St. 370-9177. CC. No alcohol. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
EJ's Eats and Drinks A bright, paprika-seasoned, smashed, half-pound patty is the basis for the EJ's Burger ($6.50 with homemade chips). It and every other burger on the menu come with cheese, and the default condiment is mayonnaise on a split top bun. Green leaf lettuce, tomato slices and paper-thin ringlets of purple onion provide the freshness. The house potato chips are outstanding, especially the BBQ chips. 523 Center St. 666-3700. CC. Beer and wine. 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.
Frontier Diner The World Famous ½ Pound Cheeseburger ($4.99 with chips) is Central Arkansas’s workingman burger — a half pound of tightly packed, heavily griddle-charred beef on a seedless, barely toasted white bun with green leaf lettuce, flat pickles and a lot of white onion. You’ll want some of the paper towels on the table. 10424 Interstate 30 (westbound access road). 565-6414. CC. No alcohol. 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 6 a.m.-1 p.m. Sat.
Frostop Go for the Big Daddy ($7.95, $10.95 combo with fries and drink) here. Served on a seeded, specially made eight-inch bun, buttered on the inside, the smashed burger is Greek-seasoned, likely by Cavender's, and big enough that they probably flip it with a spatula the size of a tennis racket. Pickles and mayo on the bottom give the burger a distinctive flavor, and there's a generous amount of cheese melted on top of the patty. Iceberg lettuce, a full layer of tomato slices and onion ringlets fill it out. 4517 JFK Blvd., NLR. 758-4535. CC. No alcohol. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat., noon-6 p.m. Sun.
The House Any burger touting itself as "great" needs to live up to the name. Fortunately, The House's signature burger ($9.50 with side item) does just that, with a tight-packed lean Wynn Farms beef patty served with a special house mayo on a Boulevard Bread Company bun with fresh lettuce, tomato, sweet red onion and pickles. 722 North Palm. 663-4500. CC. Beer and wine. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 11 a.m.-midnight Fri., 10 a.m.-midnight Sat., 10 a.m.- 11 p.m. Sun.